The Columbia College volleyball team finished pool play at the NAIA national tournament with a record of 2-1 after falling to No. 1 National American, of South Dakota, 30-20, 30-17, 30-16 on Thursday at Southwell Complex.
The Cougars stayed with the undefeated Mavericks early in the first game, but with the score tied at 12, National American went on a 7-0 run that put the game out of reach and deflated the Cougars for the rest of the match.
National American coach Todd Lowery said his team’s ability to play at a consistently high level leads to long scoring runs.
“As soon as a team drops off a little bit, we’re able to put 10 or 11 points on a team in a hurry,” Lowery said. “It’s just a consistency that comes from everywhere.”
The national tournament is now a single-elimination tournament with the winner of each pool and the second-place finisher of pool E earning automatic berths into the quarterfinals. The second-place finisher in pool A plays pool D’s second-place finisher, and the second-place finishers in pools C and D play each other to earn the final spots in the quarterfinals.
With the loss, the Cougars will have to go through a play-in game to make the quarterfinals and will play No. 7 Albertson of Idaho at 10:30 a.m. today at Southwell Complex, with the winner of that match facing No. 2 Fresno Pacific at 6 p.m.
The Cougars were plagued by mistakes throughout the match. Coming out of a time out down 27-17 in the second game, the Cougars gave up two easy points. Senior defensive specialist Shari Tuttle served into the net, and freshman middle hitter Maria Omondi then whiffed on a set, letting the ball fall to the floor without making contact.
Sophomore outside hitter Rael Rotich led the Cougars with 11 kills but also had 9 errors and recorded a .063 hitting percentage. The Cougars had 14 errors and 6 service errors during the match.
THE STREAK CONTINUES: Despite losing to National American, the Cougars advanced from pool play in the national tournament for the 12th consecutive season. The most recent time Columbia failed to advance was in 1994.